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Harvesting Apples

October 12, 2013

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Am I the only one who finds grocery store produce bland? For years, I never noticed how bland and uninteresting that shelf-laden stuff is until I planted my own stuff. I just ate it (or my dad forced me to eat it!) and thought nothing of it.

But what a difference your own produce makes!

Homegrown apples

These are apples we collected from our “small” apple tree. They are the Jonathan variety. It’s taken the tree forever to grow, because it’s been outright warfare, beating back the herds of deer that annually chowed down on the tree. But that little tree kept growing, kept trying to keep enough bark and leaves to produce something.


And now the house smells like apples. Oh, my goodness. Have you ever smelled freshly picked apples before??? It’s good. They say the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, hahah! I’m so glad I planted my apple trees. The fruit is mighty scraggly because we also have to contend with the wasps and bunnies and fruit flies as well as the deer, but it looks like there is finally enough fruit for all to share.

And once we peel the skin and sink our teeth into the sweet flesh… it’s simply wonderful. What a difference from the grocery aisle!

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Summertime Slump

July 27, 2012



Oh it’s not that we’ve been lazy… not exactly…. it’s just that it’s been too hot and humid to do much renovation work. I had such grand plans once July hit. I can’t believe all we’ve done in get the new windows installed. Lack of rain and an explosion in the deer population ruined the garden. I haven’t even finished sewing curtains or installed the bookshelves or finished installing drywall in the kitchen closet… I’ve been very busy with work, though. I was accepted for a special project for a few days, and was paid well for that. A few tourist places want us to visit, and I have a ton of reviews to write including one on pet pheromone diffusers. I’m eager to see how that diffuser thing works. I have to leaves it plugged in for 30 days to see any results. Livvy’s been cranky and jumpy lately — I don’t think she likes all the noise from the fans — so we’ll see if this gadget helps any.

Over all, it’s been a quiet summer so far. I suppose we’ll get going on the renovation projects in August or maybe September when it’s cooler. It’s just too hot and miserable to wrangle with drywall and dust right now.

How has your summer been?

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Common Problems of the Garden Pea Plant

July 3, 2012

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The humble garden pea (Pisum sativum L.) has appeared on the plates of farmers and beneath their children’s tables for thousands of years. This little green vegetable has endured countless botanical biopsies, genetic tinkering and domestic cultivation since 7000 BC, appearing on every continent of the world as food, fodder and forage. The pea is not without its troubles, however. Its primary enemies are fungal and bacterial diseases, usually caused by over-watering, high humidity or stress from inadequate growing conditions.

Blight, Fungus and Mildew
A myriad of fungal and bacterial diseases plague the garden pea. Most of these types of diseases appear during seasons of high humidity and excessive rain. Downy mildew is one of the most common pea diseases, causing the plant to curl up into stunted, discolored leaves and stems early in the season. Humid conditions cause the fungus to produce fuzzy fruits. Powdery mildew develops later in the growing season as a white powder that coats leaves and stems. Both of these diseases are spread by wind during dry seasons and turn the plant yellow. Myospaerella blight cause purple streaks or lesions on the entire plant, which eventually turns yellow and dies. Leaf and pod spot, caused by a similar bacterium, appear as sunken purple or black spots. Control the spread of disease by rotating crops and burying or burning infected plants. Never place infected crops in the compost for recycling.

Rot and Viruses
Seed rot and root rots are caused by fungi that lie dormant in the soil and strike the pea plant when environmental conditions are favorable. Most fungi prefer very moist soil conditions with warm temperatures and high humidity, but the common and very destructive Fusarium root rot thrives in warm, dry soil. Ascochyta foot rot and Pea streak causes purple lesions and streaks similar to Myospaerella blight, forcing the plant to mature and die rapidly. Control the spread of disease by treating seeds and maturing plants with anti-fungal solutions, crop rotation and sufficient air circulation between growing plants. Avoid overwatering especially during times of high humidity.

Deficiencies and Disorders
A plant that does not receive its basic needs — water, sunlight, soil nutrients — becomes stressed. A stressed plant is much more susceptible to pest problems and diseases. Most stresses occur over a period of time. While a temporary lack of rainfall or freezing temperatures can certainly damage the plant, these occurrences do not necessarily cause disease. Routine over-watering, poor soil and improper climate conditions invite disease and pests. Peas prefer well-drained soil, a cool growing season and nitrogen fertilizer in soils with low nitrogen content. They benefit greatly from drip irrigation as excessive surface watering encourage rot and the possibility of fungal disease. Therefore, while environment is not a direct disorder, environment greatly influences the common problems that strike pea plants.

The pea has few parasites that affect production but a stressed plant may be plagued by pests that spread more serious diseases. Aphids feed on the sweet sap and transmit Pea mosaic virus and the virus that causes pea stunt. These diseases are characterized by sudden malformations and blisters that appear on the leaves and pea pods. The Pea leaf weevil, native to Europe, chews on leaves and nodules leaving behind a characteristic scalloped edge. Avoid planting peas near clover plants, a favorite aphid food that encourages the pests to further spread to the peas. Spray plants with insecticidal soaps or foliar insecticides. Purchase virus-resistant pea cultivars.

I hope this helps you with your pea plants. If you liked this post, please share on Facebook, Twitter, or StumbleUpon! Thanks for reading.

Photo courtesy of

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How to Build a Walkway Using a Concrete Paver Mold

June 22, 2012


You can spend thousands of dollars and hire a professional contractor to pour your walkway or install commercially made concrete pavers, or you can use Quikrete’s Walkmaker form or some other type of form. Walkway with Stones The Walkmaker, constructed of a durable plastic material, greatly simplifies the construction of a concrete walkway and produces exceptional results. For a customized look, purchase powdered cement coloring to add to the concrete mixture. Here’s how we made our lovely walkway with the mold.

Stuff You Need:
Paver Mold- we used Quikrete’s Walkmaker
Crack-resistant concrete
Flat-bladed spade
Hand tamper
Powdered cement coloring
Measuring cup
Trowel or shovel

Step 1

Determine the amount of concrete material needed for the project. Quikrete recommends one 80-pound bag of concrete for every 2 feet of walkway.

Step 2

Measure the walkway area and remove the sod with the spade. You can lay the pavers directly onto the ground, but for best results Quikrete recommends that you remove 2 to 4 inches of soil and pour gravel into the trench. Tamp the gravel so that it is level and compacted.

Bust Sod

Step 3

Pour a bag of concrete into the wheelbarrow. Remove approximately 2 cups of dry mix and set it aside. Add the powdered coloring to the dry concrete mix and stir well with a hoe.

Step 4

Fill the bucket with approximately 3 pints water. Slowly pour half the water into one part of the wheelbarrow. With the hoe, rake the dry concrete into the pool of water, mixing until all the water is absorbed.

Mixing Concrete

Step 5

Add another 2 to 3 pints of water to the bucket, and pour the water into the concrete mix. Rake and chop the concrete into the water until the water is absorbed. The mixture should have the consistency of mud. When you chop the mixture with the hoe, the mixture should stay in place. If the mixture is too crumbly or stiff, add more water. If the mixture is too soupy, add some of the dry concrete mix you have set aside, and mix well.

Step 6

Place the Walkmaker form at one end of the walkway. Shovel or trowel the concrete into the form, patting down the mix to ensure that it fills the corners and cavities of the mold.

Filling Form

Step 7

Lift the form straight up so it does not snag on and damage the wet concrete pavers. Hose off the form immediately to prevent the concrete mix from hardening.

Lifting Form 2

Step 8

Repeat the process of mixing concrete, laying the form in the walkway and adding the mix to the form until the walkway is complete. Allow the pavers to dry for at least 24 hours.

Step 9

Sprinkle cupfuls of Portland cement sand mix or jointing sand over the pavers. Spread the sand mix between the paver form lines with a broom so the mix completely fills the form lines.

Sweeping Sand Mix 3

Step 10

Mist the pavers with a garden hose, wetting the sand mix but not washing it out of the form lines. Allow to dry completely.

Spraying Water

Secret Garden Blooming

Notes and Tips

To make a curved walkway, reposition the Walkmaker form onto the wet concrete mix in the direction of the curve. Press the form down to form new paver lines. Smooth out the previous paver lines with the trowel.

To prevent the Walkmaker form from sticking to the wet concrete, lightly spray the form with water or very lightly with cooking oil.

To create a nonslip surface, lightly brush over the wet pavers with a stiff broom. The broom will create small ridges on the paver surface.

To allow the concrete to properly cure, choose an overcast day when the temperature will not drop before 50 degrees and no rain is expected within 24 hours. If it does rain, cover unstained concrete pavers with plastic sheeting. In an area with sun, cover the concrete pavers with plastic sheeting or burlap to prevent the concrete from drying too quickly. Lightly moisten the burlap periodically when the material becomes too dry.

Do not cover stained concrete with plastic sheeting or burlap, as they may cause discoloration. Apply Quikrete Concrete Sealer to the surface of the concrete instead.

Concrete is caustic. Do not breathe in concrete dust. If you have sensitive skin, wear gloves while handling concrete.

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Cool Aluminum Foil Garden Markers

June 7, 2012

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Garden markers are so helpful when the little seedlings are just starting to pop up in the garden. All those seedlings look the same and if you are like me, you totally forget what you plant where. In the past, I’ve tried popsicle stick markers (the pen ink fades and the popsicle sticks never go in far enough so they topple over) and skinny tree limbs stuck in the ground with colored string (I always lose that list that tells me what color belongs to what plant!). So when I saw a unique fix at, I flipped. This is so neat!

Crafting weblog Aunt Peaches shares how to make inexpensive and attractive garden markers using a bit of aluminum duct tape and a box of plastic dinner knives. Cut out a piece of aluminum tape and sandwich it around the handle of the plastic knife. Then write the plant name in reverse on the tape with a ballpoint pen – this will press out the letters on the other side and you’ll have an embossed metallic garden marker.

The key is using aluminum foil duct tape, the kind used for taping heating and cooling ducts together. I tried it using aluminum foil. It didn’t work out very well.


The duct tape markers should last a while. And they look kinda quirky and cute.

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Garden Planted

May 31, 2012


We spent the hottest day of the year (thus far!) working outside on the garden. We didn’t plan it that way. I’m very late getting the seeds in, and couldn’t wait another day. Besides, it’s May. Who’da thought we’d break a 100-year record at 91 degrees with 75% humidity? Yick.

The husband tilled one bed and the boys did the other. The girls hacked at weeds on the garden paths.


I’d read somwehere that laying a cover of mulch helps keeps weeds down. The weeds have been mighty ferocious this year already, so I tried newspapers.


Hm. Looks awful and I am not even sure it will be effective. The papers were actually too wide to fit between the rows. So we only laid a few, then quit. We’ll see how this develops. I will eventually spread a layer of peat moss over the beds, as mulch. I have done it for a few years and it’s worked very well. I just gotta go get the stuff.

Both beds planted! I’m very pleased with it so far, despite the rather shabby appearance. It’s so GREEN and lush.


Oh the work has only just begun. I have to mend the fences and replace the mangled chicken wire. The ground hogs, rabbits, and deer love my garden too much, and they don’t like to share. We also have a grapevine on one side of the fence and raspberries on the other side. It’s quite the work to keep these guys from entangling their octopus-arms into everything.

This year, I’m trying red peppers again. This will be my third attempt. In all the years of gardening, I have only got ONE pepper. Ever. If nothing grows this year, no more peppers. I can’t grow corn here, either, because the crows are profuse and because it’s so wet here.

I also am trying broccoli again. My previous crop was a dismal failure. Here’s hoping this does better. We planted LOTS of lettuce, yellow beans, yellow and zucchini squash, rutabagas, onions and basil. I have yet to plant potatoes.

Now we wait. 🙂

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What Kind of Tree Is This?

May 11, 2012


I planted this tree years ago. It was from the Arbor Day Society, in a bundle of bare root trees. Unfortunately, the label had fallen off some of the trees. So I have NO IDEA what I have here, lol! Anyone have a guess?

Flowering Tree

I love the little saucer-shaped flowers. The tree had more of them a few weeks ago. It was quite pretty.

I’d sure like to know what kind of tree it is. If I recall correctly, it’s an ornamental that will grow about 15 to 25 feet tall. That’s all i know! Oh, and the flowers bloomed in mid-April.

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April Showers Bring May… Weeds

May 11, 2012

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Good heavens. Rain, rain, rain. It’s over now, and the sun is out. It feels so good, but it also brings to light the absolute disaster that is my yard.

The yard has gone bonkers with the incessant rain. The husband tried mowing in the rain, to keep the grass down, but it was futile. Ten days later, here we are.

Weedy Yard2

Unfortunately, the lawn tractor is broken, so the boys are doing to have to hack into the meadow with the push mower.

The kids have been keeping up with the vegetable garden pathways. You should have seen the mountains of weeds here! The beds need a thorough cleaning out (this week, if the sun stays consistent) and we have to till yet. Food prices have gone up so much that this year we MUST have a garden.

Weedy Garden 2

This is my poor baby willow tree that was stripped by deer over the winter. I don’t know if it will live, honestly. I’d wrapped it with tree wrap, but had to take it off for the good weather. The bark fell off in long strips . This is my 10th attempt at growing trees in the back yard. So far, only 1 other has survived (a blue spruce).

Stripped Willow 2

I am very proud of my apple trees. I have blossoms this year! I was nearly dancing with delight.

Apple blossoms2

So I’ve got a lot of gardening to do this year. I didn’t even mention the flower beds riddled with weeds from the flooding, nor the raspberry and grape vines that need attention. Whew!

How is your spring gardening coming along?

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Apple Blossoms

April 30, 2012


Hurray! I ventured out to the apple trees and discovered this!

Apple Blossoms

That’s the first time EVER my Jonathan Apple Tree has blossom, ever. I’ve only had it in the ground for about 8 years! It’s suffered badly from the deer. I’ve tried everything to repel those nasty creatures but they are mighty hardy critters, I tell you what. They shredded my poor little weeping willow tree over the winter. They ripped off almost all the bark on the stripling– OOO I was blazing upset. I wrapped it in tree wrap and I see leaves on it this spring but I’m too scared to take off the wrap and see the horrible condition of the trunk. We’ll see if the willow survives. I really need willows, to slurp up all the water around here. I’ve tried growing several, but they are either destroyed by my neighbors or the deer. Gardening here is more of a battle than a pleasant pastime.

Anyway, my little apple tree is only about 12 feet tall now, and scrawny as anything. But it looks like, Lord willing, I just might get some fruit this year. We’ve already had 2 hard frosts that threatened the blossoms, but they’ve held their own. Here in Upstate New York, we really can’t be guaranteed against frost at any time of the year. We are so close to Canada that a slightly gusty wind blowing south can ruin our plants. So the blossoms here are extra special.

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Bambi Meets Godzilla

April 21, 2012


Now that’s it’s spring and I’m surveying the massive damage to my vegetation and gardens, it’s time for my annual “I Hate Deer” post! Yay!

To start off this year’s festivities, I present to you a marvelous short film, Bambi Meets Godzilla.

I first saw this video more than 30 years ago! I was flabbergasted to see it on YouTube. We kids were around the television set when this little film came on sometime in the late 70s? I think it was done by a university student, as a school project? Can’t remember. It was on TV one fine Saturday afternoon. My brothers and I and my very little sister were watching it. Oh the sweet, lilting music! The adorable and soft sylvan setting! The innocent little fawn munching on my future hostas forest foliage!

All of sudden, HERE COMES GODZILLA! Impending doom.

The boys and I (quite the tomboy) rolled on the floor, laughing. My young sister, however, was aghast and shouted out in distress. For some reason, we all thought her angst was hilarious, too, and laughed even harder. It was tough being a girl in our family.

I never forgot that video. I even told my kids about it. Imagine my surprise to find it on YouTube!! I gathered them around the computer like a mother hen with her chicks, pressed the “Full Screen” key and turned up the volume. With swelling anticipation, I awaited their hilarious laughter.

The video ended.


“Oh Mom’s so sadistic,” a daughter rolled her eyes. The other kids were quiet.

WHAT?!?! I think it’s cool.

Deer eat my gardens, they eat my trees, they poop in my lawn, they wreck all my hard work!!! Cheers to Godzilla. 🙂 Muahahahhaaha.

So who are you rooting for?

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